Joan Snyder is a New York based artist, whose paintings reveal a personal, autobiographical experience as well as a communal one. She lives and works in Brooklyn and Woodstock, New York. An abstract artist, Snyder chose to work in the genre of Abstract Expressionism, since it had always been dominated by male artists.
Snyder was born in New Jersey. She received her B.A. in Sociology from Douglas College and her M.F.A. from Rutgers University in 1966. In her early works she created paintings of farms, landscapes, and portraits. In 1969, Snyder married famed photographer Larry Fink and would move with him onto a farm in Pennsylvania.
Snyder writes, “I felt like my whole life, I had never spoken . . . had never been heard . . . had never said anything that had any meaning. When I started painting, it was like I was speaking for the first time.”
As a feminist artist, Snyder in the late 1960s chose to use non-art materials associated with women, such as seeds, thread, and glitter. This led to her gesture stroke paintings in the early 1970s as she and other feminist artists brought more process into their art making. She would start with a grid as a background on the canvas and then would apply layers of paint over it. In the late 1970s, revisiting female sensibility, she abandoned her use of the grid and began to incorporate symbols and texts into her works.
Snyder was one of the founding members of Heresies, a feminist publication. She left Pennsylvania in 1980 with her one-year-old daughter and moved back to New York. Her work in the late 1980s and 1990s dealt with the exploitation of women and children throughout the world. Her paintings took on a new level of global concern.
In 2011, she married her partner of 28 years Margaret Cammer.
Snyder’s early works were included in the 1973 and 1981 Whitney Biennials. She is a MacArthur, Guggenheim, and NEA Fellow. Her work has been shown in New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, MoMA, the Whitney Museum, the Guggenheim, San Francisco MoMA, Art Institute of Chicago, and the National Museum of Women in the Arts, and others.